The review is here, and generally positive--although the reviewer does point out a couple of King's sentence-level clunkers, and makes a reasonable argument: considering the sheer mass of the guy's output, you'd think he'd be a better stylist. Here's the quote:

As for the prose, it’s not all smooth sailing. Given King’s extraordinary career-long dominance, we might expect him at this point to be stylistically complete, turning perfect sentences, as breezily at home in his idiom as P. G. Wodehouse. But he isn’t, quite. “Then it came down on her again, like unpleasant presents raining from a poison piñata: the realization that Howie was dead.” (It’s the accidental rhyme of “unpleasant” and “presents” that makes that one such a stinker.) I felt the clutch of sorrow, too, when I read this: “What you’re planning is terribly dangerous — I doubt if you need me to tell you that — but there may be no other way to save an innocent man’s life.”

The reviewer is forgiving, though--pointing out that "King has always produced at pulp speed," and that "writing flat-out keeps him close to his story, close to his source. It seems to magnetize his imagination..." Still, you'd think that a guy who has publicly expressed his frustration with the "snobbery" of the literary world would take the time to prove them wrong: it's not that hard to clean up the prose before going to press.

On edit: it's worth noting that Wodehouse published 72 novels (three posthumously), 19 short story collections, three autobiographical books, and several plays and libretti. So, no slouch himself on the output front.

Views: 296

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

It's not parody, really, just his wink at the absurdity of taking any of it very seriously.

If you want to actually analyze prose on some sort of microscopic level, you can choose any writer you want and take some sentences out of context and make them look ridiculous.

Then it came down on her again, like unpleasant GIFTS raining from a poison piñata: the realization that Howie was dead would have been more pleasant to the reviewers ear, but then we would have missed out on that scrumptious little half-rhyme that goes so well with all that P-popping alliteration.
King's fans will forgive him anything, which is fine, obviously. I don't really get the appeal, beyond that adolescent nihilist thing, and I wish he was more interested in the "microscopic" details of sentence-writing--especially if he's going to go around writing books about craft. My sense is that the reviewer got him about right: fun, but ultimately not as much fun as The Simpsons.
I remember him saying something along the lines of "I realize I'm the Big Mac of authors."

That about sums it up.
I give him points for humility, at least.
The Simpsons used to be really good when they were a comic strip. Sharp, cutting satire. You see what popular success will do to a classy tale. The Simpsons had to meet popular tastes and belief systems when on TV. (And even then they ran into some flac).
the key to any fiction novel is; Does it entertain--how an authord oes that is as varied as thenbsands on the beach--similar but unique
I saw no problems with either of those sentences. To my mind this is nitpicking at its worst. Have you seen the SIZE of that book? Just the thought of doing a copy edit run-through or galley proofs on that thing makes my head ache.

King is an amazing stylist. He makes it all seem so simple. If only it were.
I saw no problems with either of those sentences.

Wow--really? I thought they were godawful. And I don't think pointing out a writer's tendency toward the sentence-level clunker is nitpicking at all--but then I'm kind of a fan of good sentence-writing.

I'm curious about this mythology around King-as-stylist, too--at best his prose strikes me as generic, at worst see above. Maybe "compared to who?" is the pertinent question here.
Well, the "compared to who?" question is a tricky one, especially for someone who works in this industry and has no desire to create enemies. But I don't think King has to be compared to anyone for the statement to be true. Now, you may not LIKE his particular style, but that's a different story altogether.

As for the sentences, the first was deemed bad because of the accidental rhyme. While that certainly makes the sentence a little awkward, it doesn't make it a clunker. And the second one wasn't perfect, but it wasn't anything to cringe over.

When you're dealing with a book that looks to be about 500,000 words long, isolating a couple of awkward sentences is nitpicking.

Let's face it, we all read and reread our manuscripts a dozen or more times between first draft and final publication. The process, frankly, tends to make us sick of our own books -- at least it does for me -- and by the time you're at read-through number twelve, you miss things that you would have caught with fresh eyes. The longer the work, the harder it is to make it all perfect.

It's easy to pull an awkward sentence or two out of anyone's work. But I'd be curious to read the entire passage those sentences were pulled from. How do they work on a larger scale? How do they fit into the work as a whole?

Because, ultimately, that's how the book will be judged.
Well, I think the ultimate critical judgment has just been rendered by the NYTBR; the ultimate public judgment is another thing, and is likely to be yet another rousing ovation in the form of a mega-bestseller, as usual.

As I said, to my ear both of the sentences the reviewer mentions are godawful. For me the problem with the first one isn't so much in the rhyme, although that's pretty bad--it's just a rotten simile. The second one is complete drivel--the kind of dialogue I'd throw a Dan Brown novel across the room for. But I guess it depends on the standard: "is it good" vs. "is it good enough." If the point is to get on with the story, then good enough is probably good enough. If the point is to write a great story as well as it can be written, then "good enough" isn't ultimately all that good.
I don't think it's a case of good vs. good enough. I don't think that's the point.

I'd say that you could find awkward lines even in what most of us would consider the greatest books. And taken out of context they might well be godawful to some of us.

What matters is the overall book and how it holds together stylistically, and I think King usually excels on that level.

As for the ultimate critical judgment, I wouldn't leave that to the NYTBR, but to the individual reader.
What matters is the overall book and how it holds together stylistically, and I think King usually excels on that level.

I think it all matters. Call me nitpicky, I don't mind.


CrimeSpace Google Search

© 2024   Created by Daniel Hatadi.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service